Report No. 255
D. The List System in Germany
4.12. After the Second World War, Germany adopted a new electoral system, which has been characterised as a 'personalised proportional system'. In this, the German parliament (Bundestag) has a minimum of 598 seats. Each voter has two votes, the first being given to a particular candidate in one of the 299 single-member constituencies. The second vote is a party vote, given to a party list at the federal state level. Candidates are allowed to compete in single-member districts as well as simultaneously for the party list.
4.13. The candidates who achieve a majority in the single-member districts are elected directly. The second vote determines how many representatives will be sent from each party to the Bundestag, in proportion to the share of votes.171
171. German Bundestag, 'Election of Members and the allocation of seats,
4.14. Only parties obtaining more than 5% of the votes at the national level or, alternatively, having three members elected directly in the single member constituencies, are considered in the national allocation of list proportional representation seats.172
172. Michael Krennerich, Germany: The Original Mixed Member Proportional System, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance,
4.15. This ensures both a close relationship between voters and their representatives through the direct election route, while ensuring representation of smaller parties. The hybrid model also helps ensure stability, even in a coalition government.173 While Germany enjoys a stable model of proportional representation, other countries following the system, such as Italy have experienced turbulent and unstable coalition governments with frequent dissolutions of its Parliament resulting in more than 28 governments in the past four decades.174
173. Thomas Stratman, Martin Baur, 'Plurality Rule, Proportional Representation and the German Bundestag', CESIFO WORKING PAPER NO. 650(2), January 2002,
174. Tobias Jones, In favour of a hung Parliament?